Traveling Photographer Shoots the Great American West Using Only His iPhone

Getting noticed for quality landscape and wildlife photography is difficult enough, but try doing it on an iPhone. That’s what photographer Kevin Russ has been doing, traveling the great American West and capturing stunning photos using nothing more than an iPhone 4S and 5.

Some might see it as a gimmick, but his work speaks for itself. Throughout the video a slideshow of the images he’s captured during his travels scrolls by — square crops revealing those shared via Instagram — and we found ourselves surprised at the impressive quality and composition of his shots.

As he explains in the video, he has to be very particular about the situations he photographs, choosing his lighting carefully to match the iPhone’s limited dynamic range. From the looks of it, we’d say he’s spot on more often than not.

Kevin Russ | A Traveling Photographer [Vimeo via Shooting Gallery]

  • Andersen

    I think it should be clear by now, that the iPhone is just a camera like every other camera. Photography is not defined by its tools or the quality of them, but the artistic expression of the artist within the photograph. You can shoot fine art photography with a Casio watch, an iPhone or a Hasselblad. It doesn’t matter. Only difference is the appearance of the photograph and even this can be an artistic expression just like in paintings.

    In a couple of years the iPhone along with Instagram will be regarded as one of the bigger revolutions in the photography world and all the naysayers will look quite dumb in retrospect (just like the Kodak brownie haters back then). In my opinion of course.

  • michaelp42

    Credit where its due, some great images here. Hope someone buys him a new shirt soon though! :-)

  • Duke Shin

    Instagram? May the day when a swagfag/yoloer’s duckfaces and mirror self-shots are considered fine art never come.

  • andersen

    Maybe I expressed myself a tad weird; Duckfaces will never be fine art photography. A great photograph on the other hand is a great photograph, no matter if it has been taken with a Hasselblad or an iPhone and Instagram. Just like a great painting is a great painting, no matter which colors, brushes or style the artist used.

    Instagram – just like the Kodak Brownie – made it even more easy for people to shoot and also brought the “fun” and “creativity” aspect of photography to a vast amount of people, mainly due to the wide spread iPhone. I know a lot of people, who – due to the fact that there’s no “technical barrier” anymore – tried photography for the first time with Instagram and you’d be amazed how many people actually have talent. They just didn’t know. And that’s the revolution I am talking about and it makes me happy.

    Duckfaces and Justin Bieber selfportraits are a “bad” side effect of course.

  • Jackson Cheese

    A duckface will never be fine art, but they could serve as interesting time capsules. Like looking back at photos from the 80’s and seeing mullets, big bangs, jean jackets, and zubaz.

    We can all look back, say “remember that?!?” shake our heads and share a nice laugh.

  • ietion

    1:29 – i’ve seen a very similar pic of ‘Antelope Canyon’ in Arizona shot with a 5D Mark I. Just google ‘Antelope Canyon’ and compare the pics with this one. Some people may like the iphone pic, that is fine by me. But If I ever get to shoot this i will have my DSLR. Not a phone.

  • Jared Monkman

    and combs his hair!! lol.. I kid. This guy is great! Although I have to agree with another commenter.. I would bring my DSLR!

  • Alex Szecsi

    I’m sorry?!SLR DSLR TLR always the best option.

  • Mansgame

    All this tells me is that this guy is using a gimmick from 2 years ago to gain attention undeserving. He could have done this whole thing with a DSLR and got much better results but then he wouldn’t have a gimmick.

  • Mansgame

    His pictures may be composed nicely but I agree, the DSLR version is much better and he wasted a trip because of his gimmick.

  • Duke Shin

    Heh. Where I live, it would be more like: “Hey, remember that chick got pregnant?”

  • bob cooley

    Instagram will more likely be a historical footnote in photography in a couple of years. Gimmickry never lasts very long.

    iPhone photography is fine if you never enlarge an image above the size of a Facebook posting, but once you enlarge an image to size of a large monitor (or print you would hang on the wall) you’ll quickly see where the technology fails the artistry.

    I look at this gallery of Mr. Russ’s well-composed, nicely thought out images and think – what a wasted opportunity. Even with an inexpensive, older model DSLR and a single decent lens, he could have captured all of these images, but had copies of them that will stand up to more than facebook use.

    And yes, I do realize he is selling them on a website as prints, but looking at even some of screen-sized enlargements on his tumblr account, the images fall apart very quickly.

    This is something that those of us who used to shoot film ran into all the time – seeing that shot on the contact sheet with the naked eye and thinking ‘ I nailed it’, then seeing it enlarged to 8×10 or larger and realizing, ‘ohhh.. notsomuch…’

  • mishobaranovic

    Are you going to write the same comment over and over again? The photos are beautiful. They are honest, courageous and full of skill. The gimmick only exists in your closed gear-headed mind.

  • Nathan Blaney

    Kevin’s work is terrific. I’ve followed it for years. He’s got a fantastic portfolio over at iStockphoto if anyone’s interested in licensing some of his work…

  • Mansgame

    I wrote it twice before seeing ietion’s comment. The photos have good composition but if you can’t see that these exact pictures would be much better using a D800, 5DII, 5DIII, D4, 1DX, D3s, or even a consumer DSLR like a D90, D7000, D600, 6D, 7D, 60D, etc, then you are living in a idealistic world of makebelief. Since you don’t know anything about photography, maybe look up Dynamic Range on the google…

  • mishobaranovic

    Oh dear, it’s not about the equipment. Russ owns a DSLR, he chooses not to use it because he is able to capture, edit and share his images all with the same device. This helps his photographic practice. I don’t think he’s worried about pixel-peeping 8×10 prints or squinting at a big monitor. He’s too busy (and happy) taking photos everyday.

  • mishobaranovic

    No, I see the pictures and I like them. I don’t judge them based on some hypothetical ‘what if it was taken with a real camera’ silliness.

    Hmm, Russ’s online exposure and sales are telling me he’s doing just the opposite of ‘blowing it’.

    High-res monitors? The future of photo consumption will be on mobile screens.

    Oh the hipster argument, how trite.

    My camera has a better dynamic range than yours – how sad.

  • prphoto

    iphone5 will print 8×10 @ 300ppi or12x16 @200ppi. pano prints from iphone5 have been printed up to 10×50. it is a 8mpxl camera.

  • bob cooley

    Megapixels don’t matter with a miniscule sensor, minimal optics and heavy compression.

    Sure, you CAN print something that size, but the image quality will be poor – you can’t fight physics…

  • bob cooley

    There is a huge gap between pixel peeping, and using an instrument that will capture adequately. He may be happy shooting with his phone everyday, but he’ll regret the lost opportunities in the future when he realizes the quality of the images isn’t up to what it could be…

  • DafOwen

    Some of his images have great potential – but I can’t help think it’s a shame that he’s using the iPhone since it’s so limiting. He wouldn’t have to spend hours editing if using e.g. an SLR.

  • Mansgame

    lol pretty short sighted about the monitors. Right now, TV’s (not counting 4x theaters) are 1920×1080 or roughly 2 MP’s. Many DSLR’s are 24 MP now so is it that far fetched that in 10 years they’ll have 60 inch screens that match that pixel count? What about in 20 years?

    What about in 50 years? For all you know, your entire wall could be a display.

  • ietion

    Now I understand why he did this whole iphone thing. There is a market for it.

  • bri

    I like how he takes his photos with his hand in his pocket

    honestly, look at the landscape he’s travelling through. Anyone can get these kinds of shots. Yes they are beautiful, but he’s not doing anything special.

  • Nathan Blaney

    Indeed. I sell plenty of prints and license tons of images that were created on my iPhone. Its just another tool, so why not use it?!

  • Donald Wright

    Question for DL Cade: If you didn’t know that the pictures were all taken with an iPhone, would you have been as easily impressed and written an article about this?

  • Tyler Magee

    only problem with this is hes taking beautiful photos that cant be printed nicely bigger then 8×10….

  • Gregsoc

    Thank you Bob. It’s refreshing to run across a well reasoned post on this site. And yes, Mr. Russ is squandering an opportunity. All pixels are not created equal.